The giant bowls of Barangaroo House in Sydney
Three giant bowls stacked unevenly one upon the other, herbs and vegetables spilling over the sides, form the multi-level dining hub that is Barangaroo House. It sits at the southernmost point of the $8.5 billion Barangaroo waterfront precinct in Sydney.
Influential chef and restaurateur Matt Moran’s opened three venues inside - each with a distinct taste and feel catering to different dining experiences. And while they’ve prompted many glowing reviews the greenery clad exterior of the building and public realm is creating its own buzz.
“The thing I’m most proud of is the way it sits on the waterfront,” says Sacha Coles, one of the landscape architects on the three year project. “The overall composition and layering and planting with the materials of the building. And the fact you can’t tell where the greenery starts and stops.”
Coles is a director of Aspect Studios, which established a joint venture company with another landscape architecture firm, Oculus, to lead the public realm design of the streets, squares and waterfront edges of Barangaroo South. Based on that design they were then invited to “work up” Barangaroo House.
“Huw and Penny (from architecture firm Collins and Turner) designed into the edge of the structure the ability for planting to exist,” Coles told Landscape Architecture Aotearoa. “There was great coordination between us. We put in edibles, seasonal vegetables and herbs for the restaurant to use. But we had to be super strategic about where we put them because you need a lot of light and they require a lot of maintenance.”
Because the planting is at the very edge of the “bowls” Coles says he didn’t want them to carry a lot of weight, so a lot of engineering went into the planters. “We had to ensure the soil was well drained away from the edge of the slabs, and you don’t see any downpipes you just see the greenery. But structurally it’s the hardest place to put planting, where you don’t have any visible structure underneath and it cantilevers out.”
Coles says most emphasis was on the outside ground plan, making sure the building nestled easily into its setting surroundings. “We used the landscape elements to differentiate between licensed areas and public realm. There’s a bench, about 15 metres long and within that there are planting elements forming the boundary. There’s no need for fences.” People can relax on the grass in the shade of the waterfront trees, eating their takeaways and watch the world going by.